Coaching Others, Difficult Conversations, Difficult Situations

Engaging in Delicate Conversations with Others

Coaching Others, Difficult Conversations, Difficult Situations

By Starla

March 7, 2022

 Minute Read

The following question was asked in a Human Resources Facebook Group:

The following question was asked in a Human Resources Facebook Group:

"I have a delicate issue I need some advice on handling. I have a wonderful, talented HR person that has trouble with subject/verb agreement, both verbally and in emails. She has a college degree, but I think this is just what she grew up with. Common issues are things like 'I seen' and 'he do' ...that kind of thing. I'm concerned that how she speaks will relegate her to jobs at a certain level and cause upper management to not fully appreciate her or her abilities. Have any of you ever addressed this kind of thing?"

To be helpful, I offered the following insight and advice:

To be helpful, I offered the following insight and advice:

From a coaching perspective, the first question I encourage you to entertain is, "What internal dialogue is leading me to believe that this will be a delicate issue?" It is an important question to consider because how you frame it in your mind will directly impact how you frame it when discussing it with her.


In YOUR mind, what is delicate about this situation? And what are you most concerned about when having to address it with her?

If I took an educated guess, based on how you posed the question, I'm guessing that you don't want her to perceive this as an evaluation or judgment of her as a person. If that is correct, the next question I encourage you to entertain is, "Is that what this really is? Or is this a skills gap that I've identified and could help her with?"


As you already well know, HR is responsible for identifying skills gaps and providing the resources needed to close them so that team members can reach their highest potential and achieve their professional goals. Since speaking and writing effectively are essential to communicating effectively, this is an opportunity for her to enhance her communication skills so that they align with and support the value you know she has to offer.


When sharing your observations and feedback with her, I encourage you to focus solely on that. Speak very little about the judgments that have been made (or could be made) by others and how they might hold her back and, instead, shift your focus to (1) the growth opportunity you believe she deserves and (2) what could be gained if she took advantage of it. And then, (3) align it with what matters most to her.

  • What are her priorities?
  • What does she care most about?
  • What does she want for herself, and how will taking advantage of this growth opportunity help her achieve that?


Also, you might consider going into the conversation having already identified potential resources for helping close this gap. In doing so, the subtle message you send is that you are less concerned about critiquing her communication skills but rather more focused on helping her acquire the resource she needs to elevate them.

Lastly, after sharing these potential resources with her, engage her in the process of identifying and selecting the help she feels would be most effective. Ask questions to understand better how she likes to learn and what has been most effective for her in the past.

I commend you for caring and your willingness to address this with her. And remember, this type of conversation is best had after a foundation of trust has already been established.
Starla

Pulling It All Together
Pulling It All Together

One of the best compliments I ever received was "It feels like you just punched me in the face, and for some reason, I want to say, 'thank you.'"

That's because I've learned that the most difficult conversations can be had when you:

  • choose the right frame of mind,
  • are thoughtful and intentional with your approach, and
  • approach it from a place of love and compassion.

Comments or Questions?

Please share them below.

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